Sweet Hour of Prayer

There was a man born by the name of William W. Walford, whose birthday is unknown other than an approximate year.  He was born blind, and it is not recorded how he came to know the Lord; however, the story of his life and what he penned showed evidence of His personal walk with the Lord.  He was physically blind, but spiritually he understood the depths of walking by faith.  In a small town in England sat a novelty shop owned by William.  He had no formal education, yet there he sat day after day making shoehorns and other items for sale. 

The Lord blessed him with an amazing memory and used him as a preacher.  He was able to stand up and preach and quote lengthy scriptures without any error!  He took seriously the matter of hiding God’s word in his heart.  It was often there in the store he would ponder and write messages in his mind only to recall them later for his sermon.

One day, as he was in his shop, an American preacher came to visit him to talk to him about prayer.  In their conversation it was discovered that William Walford had composed, in his mind, a poem about prayer.  However, he did not have anyone to scribe it for him, so he just held it within his soul.  The visiting preacher had the pen of a ready writer and scribed the poem as William spoke.  Line by line he wrote the hymn we know today as, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” It is in those moments at his shop that this hymn of prayer was birthed.  It was not about what he couldn’t see in this physical world, but rather where his soul had often found relief and escaped the tempter’s snare during his sweet hour of prayer!  He knew it personally as he spoke about hastening to a place where God His Savior showed His face.  He did not use his physical sight to see God, but rather his spiritual eyes to shed light to His soul the joy and thrill of being in His presence. His poem doesn’t end there but encourages the reader to the view of his new home that he spiritually sees from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height and where he takes his flight to heaven! Finally, to close the poem he bids farewell to his sweet hour of prayer!  A man who was physically blind, but literally walked by faith, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith. (Hebrews 12:1) 

Not too long ago, as a church, we sang this hymn. I pondered it as we lifted our voices to God.  It is a song that builds momentum through each verse.  It speaks of being called from a world of care, to seeking His face, to seizing our Everlasting Prize while shouting through the air, “farewell, farewell sweet hour of prayer.”  Seeing the stages through each verse reminds me that while here on earth there will be a need to pray, and grief and distress will, at times, be the burden on my heart.  Yet one day I am going to see Jesus, and the veil will be lifted, and the glass will no longer be dark through which I spiritually see, but I will clearly see Him as He is!  The One who I spent time praying to and pouring out my heart in supplication.  It is truly the sweet hour of prayer that has called me so many times from this world of care! 

As Christians we have the blessed opportunity to go boldly into the throne room of grace. (Hebrews 4:16) William writes in his verse that he hastens to this place, where God my Savior shows His face.  All he needed was his spiritual eyes to see God during his time of prayer. 

So many years later, his poem we sing, not because of him, but rather the truths it rings forward to us living here and now. How did William experience this and within his soul bring forth a poem that spoke of his sweet hour of prayer with His Lord?

After reading about his life, pondering, and singing the hymn a few things came to my mind.   

Prayer is an ongoing lesson to be learned.

I see that in Luke 11:1. Jesus’ disciples asked that He would teach them to pray. The word teach in this context is a prolonged causative verb, which is a fancy way of saying I am going to cause or teach you to do something continually.  It was not going to be a one lesson session, but the disciples asked that Jesus would teach them continually how to pray. Are you and I willing to sit at the Master’s Feet and have Him evaluate our prayer life?  To allow God to show us areas that need improvement to honor Him in our prayers? 

Prayer must be done depending on the Lord.

We must not come to a place in our life where we are dependent on ourselves to pray.  We must continually ask the Lord how to pray.  It may be changing how we pray, or who we pray about, or using more scripture in our prayers.  When we ask, we must wait, and He will show us how to pray, and how to pray in His Spirit. 

How often do you or I start our prayers off depending on God to teach us how to truly pray to Him?  More often than I would like to admit, I begin my prayers and off I go into the prayer list and other needs.  I am displaying self-sufficiency instead of depending on God to teach me how to pray. I must enter His presence asking Him to teach me to pray and let Him, through His Spirit, show me how to pray.  

In Luke 5:1-9 we read of the story of the disciples fishing.  They were trying themselves and produced nothing.  Then Jesus came and we read that after they cast their nets at His word, they became astonished at how many fish they had caught.  It is the same with our prayer life.  When we labor and toil and row ourselves and depend upon ourselves to pray, we will produce nothing.  We must at His command pray as He teaches us to pray and depend upon Him.  It is moment by moment, waiting in His presence at His throne and heeding what He says.  We go to Him asking Him about our prayer life.  What does it look like, what needs to change, how can it be better, what needs to be adjusted?  Then humbly letting the Spirit lead us in His direction, teaching us to pray. 

As we each personally look to strengthen our prayer life with the Lord, may we allow ourselves to be moldable and learn from the great Master Teacher.  Bring to the Lord how you pray to Him and ask Him if there is anything you should change.  Be open and transparent and allow Him to teach you how to pray so that your time with Him will truly be a sweet hour of prayer and profitable for His kingdom.  


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About Kate Hub

Kate lives in rural NW Ohio with her husband Daniel, three children and several cats, which is necessary to keep the mice population in check. God has kept them on the move ministering wherever He has led them, from inner city Minneapolis, eastern Ohio, the deep south in the U.S., to their current position. Daniel has served as an Assistant Pastor for 14 years, while just recently celebrating 4 years as a Senior Pastor. Kate is passionate in teaching her three children, the ladies at the church, and those who attend her ASL classes. She enjoys writing to her heart’s content with a cup of tea, and dark chocolate.